Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quips and Quotations


Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.

--Stella Adler, acting teacher. Among her students were Marlon Brando, Judy Garland, Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, Harvey Keital, and Warren Beatty, though probably not all in the same class. 

 
 
 
 
 

 





11 comments:

  1. One of the saddest things is the absence of art in Americans lives. Not to mention the absence of artists. When I tell people I am an artist a lot of times I just get a confused look. Most people are exposed to movies and actors, that is the only kind of art and artist they know about. Kind of sad.

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  2. I still think there are a lot of art and artists out there, Patricia, but their visions have been compromised by the needs of mass media. Sad though it may be, I enjoy the challange of separating the wheat from the chaff.

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  3. i wouldn't say art is disappearing from the American life. go to a place like Etsy and browse through the shops and you will see diverse art in all forms. Often this is called crafting but I have yet to define the difference. Computers have allowed creative but perhaps less talented artists to flourish in digital media a new kind of art that is often derivative more often surprising in its freshness. And MS Adler is a pessimist. granted there is truth in what she says but also joy abounds in this world if we lift our faces to the sun.
    It seems you were in a somewhat melancholy mood choosing this particular quote by Adler though most of hers are a bit melancholy.

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    1. Well, Mike, I looked it up, and the term "craft" has historically meant something somebody did for a living that required a bit of skill. A carpenter, for instance, would have been a craftsmen. As for the term "arts and crafts", that was at one time--about a 100 years ago--an international design movement, one that was a reaction against industrialism, and the threat that it posed to traditional craftsmen. In other words, instead of carpenters making chair and tables and the like, factories were increasingly putting these things out, and some folks were upset about that. Not just that it was putting tradional carpenters out of work, but also because chairs and tables right off the assembly line have no character about them. So the movement was really about aesthetics. That's 100 years ago. Nowadays, when someone uses the term "arts and crafts'' it's a synonym for "decorative art". Decorative arts refer to objects that serves some kind of function that's not purely aesthetic. You can sit on a chair. You can eat at a table. But a chair or table can also be decorative, and thus, arguably, artistic. But it's not artistic in the same way a painting or sculpture or poem or novel is artistic, because those things are purely aesthetic. They serve no other function. Well, I suppose you COULD sit on a novel, but it would be pretty uncomfortable.

      I'm always melancholy. The last time I looked up at the sun I got burnt. My face was peeling for a whole week.

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    2. Now that I think of it, you could also use a novel to balance out a table in which one leg is too short. If it's a handcraft table, I guess its doubly artistic.

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  4. i've seen tables and chairs that were first works of art, as well as functional. and i've seen too many crafts that were dreck. i think there is a clarity of vision/perception that differentiates art from craft. there can be overlaps, of course. i have come to suspect (subject to testing) that anything that lifts the heart and mind to new heights is art. or, conversely, makes you pull out your hair. now that's art :)

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    1. I like your definition of art, rraine. Both definitions.

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  5. Love this quote. I've always said that whenever life doesn't make sense, I make art out of it.

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    1. Good to hear from you, Kass. I love the quote, too. When I first came across it a couple of weeks ago in a book review of Stella Adler's essays, I said: Yesss!!!!

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  6. I admit that a lot of crafts are dreck but the best of them easily encompasses art. It's interesting that what Stella Adler did for theater was to break down acting into a craft.

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    1. Mike, I don't define art simply by whether I like something or not. The intent of the person creating the object makes a difference. What other people think, frankly, makes a difference. I may not particularly care for Thomas Kincade, but a lot of people do. For them, it's art. For Kincade, it's art. It doesn't mean I have to like Kincade's art. That doesn't mean I can't criticize Kincade art, say it's corny or smarmy art. Ultimately, its art I don't like. But it can still be viewed as art. Though everyone from college professors to SoHo hipsters will try to convince you otherwise, art really is just a matter of opinion.

      This all gets a little dicey when it comes to popular culture. That's the "challange" I was referring to in my reponse to Patricia. In my recent post "Then Again" I said the comic strip BEETLE BAILEY was a product, not art. That was based on the fact, from anything I've ever read about the strip, that it's put together by a committee. Still, if 90-something Mort Walker were to state his goals are entirely artistic, then I might have to give him the benefit of a doubt, and call BEETLE BAILEY art, albeit art that I haven't found funny, or the least bit interesting, since I was about 15 years old.

      Interestingly, there are figures who OTHERS claim as artists, regardless of whether they want to be thought of that way or not. Will Eisner was a cartoonist who did a hybrid comic strip/comic book called THE SPIRIT throughout the 1940s. After it ran its course, he disappeared into industrial and governmental comics (i.e. propaganda) for about 20 years. During that time his 40s work was rediscovered, partly due to one-time assistant Jules Feiffer, by a whole new generation. When Eisner returned to, um, non-industrial and non-governmental comics in the 1970s, he came out with A CONTRACT WITH GOD, what many consider to be the first graphic novel. In interviews I've read with Eisner, he wanted CONTRACT, and a whole series of graphic novels that followed, to be considered "art". What he DIDN'T want, is for THE SPIRIT to be considered art. As far as he was concerned, that was just his bread and butter back in the day. But a lot of Eisner fans consider THE SPIRIT to be art in spite of itself. If you've ever been lucky enough to read a SPIRIT story, I think you might agree it may have been the most creative slice of bread and butter ever.

      Finally, Mike, you felt the need to question whether I was "melancholy" or not, based on my choice of this particular quote. Well, now it's my turn to question YOU. You've now posted two comments defending craftwork as art. Why? Have you personally taken up some craft--woodworking, clockmaking, etc--that you feel isn't getting the attention it deserves?

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